Je vous salue, Jean-Luc

Just in time for holiday giving, Olive Films has at last released an American edition of Jean-Luc Godard’s decades-in-the-making (or at least, decades-in-the-rights-clearing) “Histoire(s) du cinema” — 266 minutes of Godardian goodness assembled from a dizzying array of sources cinematic, literary, musical and painterly. Flashes of lightning like coherence burst through billowing cloud banks of Godardian obscurity over the course of eight episodes. While the sage of Switzerland may not always have his facts straight (did you know that Erich Pommer founded Universal?), the project is a magnificent non-linear journey across the 20th century, occasionally touching on movies but just as often occupied with the moral paradoxes of Western culture — its highs (“Some Came Running”) and lows (Sarajevo).

I can’t imagine that there will ever be a definitive critical account of this sprawling, brilliantly associative, impossibly dense work, and while I certainly don’t have one to offer in this week’s New York Times column, I do have a few elementary observations, which can be found here.

131 comments to Je vous salue, Jean-Luc

  • Brian Dauth

    Peter: That is what I like about FILM SOCIALISME so much — Godard’s willingness to look for a way to move on — to continue to search for and create meaning even as the medium changes. I find his work more problematic when he indulges in relentless mourning over a tradition that was never as unchanging as it is made out to have been.

  • “players [of the origin game] hang everything on historical facts which could be both incidental and serving ad hoc poetic justice, and the facts could be wrong or in dispute in the first place.”

    Peter Henne’s statement about Godard describes Eastwood’s “J.Edgar” very accurately.

    As for Godard, he does a lot of speculating and reaches questionable conclusions in the late films, but the presentation makes them worth seeing.

  • Barry Putterman

    Jonah, I think that you are very much on the mark here. And if people would re-connect with the kinds of associations and linkages that they made while randomly accumulating film history knowledge by watching television prior to acquiring a coherent overview, they might find Godard less frustrating.

    As for the Post Cereal wing of academia; who is to say that they are not indeed, just a little bit better. I certainly would look ridiculous trying to fault somebody for using puns and allusiveness in argumentation. However, I might part ways with them in defining which things are actually ends and which are means.

  • pat graham

    re J. EDGAR: seems to me “presentation” is exactly the point (assuming there is one), the “what” of it–for the most part–you can take or leave * but when we start coaxing godard and eastwood into the same definitional nexus, something HAS to be amiss

    interestingly, what jonah seems to finds frustrating about godard, i find infuriating … so ok, it’s my problem, at least on some level * but there are godards i like (at least a few, like ELOGE, an objet d’art at proscenium remove: there’s you and there’s “it,” in all it’s hermetically reflexive glory), and godards i despise but nonetheless would describe as “brilliant” (e.g., LA CHINOISE) * not that i’d want this to happen too often–a paradox too jarring, and i’m still not sure what it’s supposed to mean, how both responses can simultaneously be valid, as if one part of the brain weren’t communicating with the other * but there we are: square pegs, round holes … not sure which of those shapes applies to me

  • “re J. EDGAR: seems to me “presentation” is exactly the point (assuming there is one), the “what” of it–for the most part–you can take or leave * but when we start coaxing godard and eastwood into the same definitional nexus, something HAS to be amiss”

    “J.Edgar” looked definitely representational with the actors in realistic make-up, period settings and costumes, etc. But the late Godard pictures seem presentational to me, and his earlier movies had their presentational moments like the Vietnam mime in “Pierrot le fou.”

    As for “La Chinoise” it seemed to me a fair picture of left sectarians, not so different from a meeting of the Revolutionary Communist Party.

    By the way, was Godard a member of a Maoist party or just a fellow traveler? Is “Vent d’est” more Gorin than Godard?

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘was Godard a member of a Maoist party or just a fellow traveler?’

    What was political belief of Godard? I know he became radical after May 1968 insurrection.

  • When I first saw LA CHINOISE during its first run as a schoolboy I thought it was a shallow parody, surfing on political clichés. Yet Godard already then was one of my top five favourite contemporary film-makers, and his incredible first 15 feature films (in 8 years), each re-inventing the medium, are one of the most astonishing achievements in the history of the cinema (and all art); I love them all except not so much MADE IN U.S.A. and LA CHINOISE. Of Godard’s later work HISTOIRE(S) DU CINEMA is a towering achievement, and I have enjoyed reading this chain very much. I have seen it projected at our Kiasma Museum of Modern Art, and I own a French dvd copy (I don’t collect dvd’s although I watch them avidly; this is one of the few exceptions). I type this at Laakso Hospital, with an epic view over the Helsinki skyline. Warm thanks to the well-wishers!

  • Brian Dauth

    I am not sure that having Eastwood and Godard in the same definitional nexus indicates that something is amiss, though it is true that the modernist/postmodernist fault line runs between them: Godard quotes texts; Eastwood queers them.

  • Speedy recovery, Antti.

    Reading all these comments I couldn’t help but notice one thing. Love him or leave him, Godard seems to be one of the very few contemporary filmmakers that practically demands to be seen through a political lens – there are, I’d venture, very few directors where art meets politics in such a thought-provoking way. Context is important when viewing any Godard film, and in his case context is inseparable of politics; even if the result can be seen merely as art, it’s not art existing in a vacuum. In that sense, he’s both a throwback to an era where cinema could change the world and a singularity in a world where people seem to assume that’s not possible anymore.

    I tend to look at him as your curmudgeonly old uncle who has always something exciting to say even if sometimes he goes on a bit. I don’t like “Hélàs pour moi”, but “Prénom Carmen” is extraordinary, and “Éloge de l’Amour” is simply marvellous.

  • Barry Putterman

    Jorge, I don’t really take issue with what you say, but does ANY art exist in a vacuum? And, isn’t it part of Godard’s viewpoint that ALL film is inseperable from a political context?

    That said, I’m a bit hard pressed to think of examples in which cinema could or did change the world.

  • Films that may have changed the world, to the better or the worse: THE BIRTH OF A NATION, TRIUMPH DES WILLENS, ROMA CITTÀ APERTA, CZLOWIEC Z MARMURU (THE MAN OF MARBLE)…

    NUIT ET BROUILLARD has been compulsory education in Germany and France, in the spirit of “never again”.

    I’M A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG

  • Junko Yasutani

    One more film changing society in Japan is AKASEN CHITAI.

    I have thought of other way movie is changing the world, by fashion. New fashion is spread by movie. Also, people is imitating other thing they see in movie, slang, hairstyle, interest in recent history of something. There was much interest in 1930s America when BONNIE AND CLYDE was released in Japan.

  • NUIT ET BROUILLARD has been compulsory education in Germany and France, in the spirit of “never again”.

  • Barry Putterman

    Well, I KNEW that would get a rise out of people. Maybe terms need to be more specifically defined here. For instance, Antti (and I too hope you are completely recovered) when you say “changed the world” are you claiming that the Klan and the Nazis would not have become forceful social movements without THE BIRTH OF A NATION or TRIUMPH OF THE WILL? Or that Poland would have taken a different political course if not for THE MAN OF MARBLE?

  • David Bhekhirst

    If informing a generation’s understanding of themselves and of their place in their society counts, there are a million, maybe starting with, regrettably, THE GRADUATE.

  • Vivian

    Does the fact that something (a film, a text, etc.) been elevated to the status of “compulsory education” necessarily mean that it will change the world?

    Is something that isn’t treated as “compulsory education” less likely to change the world?

    Can we point with any assurance to what things have led to which changes in the world?

    (I’m editing to reflect that Barry has pointed out — or asked — more clearly what I’m trying to say, and that Junko’s example of BONNIE AND CLYDE influencing fashion seems pretty indisputable.)

  • THE BIRTH OF A NATION and Ku Klux Klan. TRIUMPH OF THE WILL: so powerful that when Frank Capra saw it his reaction was that we may have lost already. NUIT ET BROUILLARD / NACHT UND NEBEL as compulsory education: in the best way, also in an EU way, uniting arch-enemies France and Germany in the spirit of “never again”. THE MAN OF MARBLE certainly was an important incitement to the whole East European change. There were many other movies, but that one was the one which ignited. I don’t mean they alone achieved this but that they were a conscious and obvious contribution to the spirit of changing society. I WAS A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG contributed to changes in law.

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘Can we point with any assurance to what things have led to which changes in the world?’

    That is good question Vivian. But we cannot say that movie is not contributing to change.

    I have mentioned AKASEN CHITAI (1956). Good evidence that it changed public opinion in favor of Anti-Prostitution Law, but also public opinion was shifting already when movie was released.

  • Brian Dauth

    Barry: I am not quite sure what form the proof of the proposition “cinema can change the world” would take. Certainly not a scientific one, since scientific discourse is separate and apart from aesthetic discourse.

    Do movies have an effect on spectators such that their understanding of and actions in the world can be affected? I think that is quite possibly true, but the work of art does not alter social realities. I think Adorno has a good understanding when he argues that a work of art can critique society and even suggest alternate paths, but has no power to change anything: “Insofar as a social function can be predicated for artworks, it is their functionlessness.”

  • Vivian

    Junko, I think I’m more comfortable with the phrase “contributing to change,” but I guess that’s mere semantics. The more narrow and specific the contribution is, the easier it is not to suspect the claim of “changing the world” is rather inflated.

    I love that Adorno quote. Although I’m not sure if he meant it as praise of the “functionlessness” of art.

  • Barry Putterman

    As is so often the case, Vivian was thinking along the same lines as I was and hit it on the sweet spot.

    Again I would come back to the question, does ANY art exist in a vacuum? All of these films could be said to be directly engaged in the political ethos of the moment that they were made in, but so many other elements of society were as well that to single them out would require larger blinders than would be comfortable for me. And there were many other films which were equally engaged in the political ethos but in more indirect ways.

    “Can we point with any assurance to what things have led to what changes in the world?”

    I recall seeing the British “alternative” comedian Adrian Edmondson being interviewed and remarking that when he and his fellows were becoming very popular in the early 80s, they were encouraged to be more directly satricial of the Thatcher administration. He said that they did then do more political material, and sure enough, seventeen years later the Tories were out of power.

  • Vivian

    I do like to think of myself as the Billy Williams of the world wide web, so thanks for reinforcing that delusion, Barry.

    As far as “changing the world” goes, there’s also the endlessly fascinating concept of unintended consequences.

  • Barry Putterman

    Brian, if by “functionless” it is meant that, using the Tony Hunter/BAND WAGON test, you can’t spread it on a cracker, then I would agree. But film is part of “mass media,” meaning that there is a general audience as well as individual spectators. Somewhat lost up to this moment in the discussion has been Junko’s incisive seocnd point regarding the fashion and behavioral changes which films have affected, with BONNIE AND CLYDE being a very fitting example.

  • AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH is a contemporary film with enormous impact.
    Global Warming is one of our most serious problems.

    The countless pro-Native American and pro-black US film and television shows of the 1950′s and 1960′s might have greatly helped the US Civil Rights movement. Individually, each one had a small impact. Collectively, they probably helped give people ideas and courage.

    Many people today have only seen a handful of these. Please go to Netflix and watch the CHEYENNE episode HOME IS THE BRAVE (1960) for a taste. What Alex calls Z-Westerns are often quite startling. (Thanks Alex, I love this term.)

    Many gay people think that the more openly gay portraits of the last 30 years, have had a positive impact on Gay Rights. What started in the 1950′s with TEA AND SYMPATHY (Minnelli) and THE RIFLEMAN: DUEL OF HONOR (Joseph H. Lewis) has became a tsunami.

    PS MAN OF MARBLE and MAN OF IRON are among my favorite films.

  • Barry Putterman

    Vivian, Billy Williams eh. Well, as Joe DiMaggio said to then then perennially bypassed Phil Rizzuto; “You’re in MY Hall of Fame.”

    (Note: that was a baseball reference in passing. It was NOT intended to start a trend or re-direct the political or social thinking of this thread on this site. You are all advised to proceed with caution.)

  • Brian Dauth

    Vivian: I understand the Adorno quote as praising/positing the functionlessness of art, while at the same time dialectically acknowledging the power of artworks to cause spectators to understand themselves as potential agents of change. Adorno’s negative aesthetics are incredibly dense, and I have (at best) a toddler’s understanding of them, but I think Adorno is arguing that an art work has no social function, but can be the cause of a spectator considering the possibility that she might/could create social change.

    What I regard as Adorno’s melancholy modernist position comes from his belief that artworks have become so devalued in society that they no longer even inspire a belief in change, but exist just to be consumed with varying degrees of formal appreciation. I feel Godard comes to a similar conclusion in much of his late work: modernism has produced so many works of sublime beauty, but they have lost the possibility of even inspiring in a spectator the idea that change can occur. This conclusion is what I have referred to before as modernism’s dead end — from which postmodernism offers a partial hope of exit.

    Added edit: Barry: I think the BONNIE AND CLYDE example that Junko notes is important since it does point to the power of film to have societal influence. But I think there remains a question of magnitude between influencing fashion and bringing about social change. Art does not exist in a vaccuum: but how far does its influence extend and how powerful is it?

  • Vivian

    Brian, your toddler’s understanding of Adorno far outstrips mine. With that caveat, I interpret what he’s saying here along the same lines.

    As I love that Adorno line, I also love your phrase “melancholy modernist.”

    Lew Archer, Melancholy Modernist?

  • Brian Dauth

    Vivian: Fabulous connection to Lew Archer: “I have a secret passion for mercy, but justice is what keeps happening to people.”

  • Barry Putterman

    But then again Brian, why couldn’t the art of fashion have the same power to cause the spectator to consider the possibility that they might create social change as the art of film?

  • “why couldn’t the art of fashion have the same power to cause the spectator to consider the possibility that they might create social change as the art of film?”
    I agree.

    Would Marlon Brando urging people to rebel in THE WILD ONE had the same effect, if he hadn’t been wearing that really cool leather jacket?
    (It wasn’t invented for the film – it was a “Perfecto Jacket” from the Schott Brothers company.)

    Movie fashion is really fascinating…

  • Brian Dauth

    Barry: I consider fashion to be a craft and not an art, since I do not believe that fashion has an ethical dimension; but I also readily acknowledge that this understanding may well be the result of a) my own myopia in comprehending how the cut/style of clothing has an ethical aspect; and b) my following the path of those writers who have claimed, as Wittgenstein does, that “Ethics and aesthetics are one.”

    Mike: the first leather jacket I bought as a flegling queerboi was a Schott jacket. Sigh.

  • Brian,
    THE WILD ONE had an enormous impact on men’s clothes. It really ignited people’s imaginations.
    So did British music videos of the 1980′s, and their spectacular fashions.

  • Barry Putterman

    Well, speaking as someone whose fashion statement is “no comment,” I am hardly the best representative to speak on its behalf. However, since I follow the path which believes that ethics and aesthetics are integral to all human endeavors, I’m assuming that my inability to grasp their essence in fashion is entirely internal on my part.

  • Brian Dauth

    Barry: What I would say is that the products of fashion — the clothing itself — can be put to aesthetic/ethical uses — but that any ethical aspects of the clothing itself pertain to the conditions under which the clothing was made, and do not inhere in the products themselves (or rather: are inherent only so far as conditions of production inhere in any manufactured object).

  • Barry Putterman

    I don’t know Brian. It seems to me that you could substitute “film industry” and “movie” for “fashion” and “clothing” in your statement and pretty much get the same result.

    Anyway, what would Vincente Minnelli say?

  • Peter Henne

    Concerning Adorno, I almost feel like tossing out a flip remark, “Yeah, well, he says a lot of things.” It is truly hard to see an argument emerging in “Aesthetic Theory.” He writes without reference to what he said a couple of pages back. It seems that this is his form of resistance to commodification. But that has provoked my own heresy, because I’ve switched from undertaking the Robert Hullot-Kentor translation to the C. Lenhardt translation, which I am guessing is less precise but nonetheless is more readable and also appears to have been based on a German edition which had the blessings of Adorno’s family.

    Adorno comes up with perceptive or otherwise intriguing insights in isolation, and I wonder if his ideas would have benefited from following the aphoristic model of Nietzsche. I wonder, too, if that route was ruled out by Adorno simply out of fear he would not look novel enough to a readership of his time obsessed with casting out the old.

    Wishing a speedy recovery for Antti.

  • Vivian

    Peter, no argument here. When I say I love that line (from Adorno), I mean I love THAT line, taken in isolation. And whether what I like about it has anything to do with what he meant by it, who knows.

  • Wow, this has really taken off.

    Barry, I probably should have said “film” instead of “art” but yes, Godard’s point is film as inseparable of political context, whether by default or by design, and even when it is meant as pure escapism (in which case it is inseparable of its context by omission). However, what I meant was that using that as part and parcel of the film’s own “raison d’être” as Godard does as a rule is certainly not a common sight. We have been accustomed to define a certain type of film as “political” because it deals with politics in its narrative, directly or metaphorically, but Godard makes sure that politics is inbred in every aspect of the film, even in its conditions of production (eg “Notre Musique” in Sarajevo, “Film Socialisme”‘s cruise, etc). In that sense, I don’t think ALL film is political; cinema is by definition an art of make-believe, and Godard has long let go of that pretense to make a sort of “cinema povero” of the thought where politics and its relation to reality is all that matters.

    Beyond the examples quoted by Antti, I would say that a lot of the European/worldwide “new waves” (Brazil, the UK, Poland, and so on) of the 1960s certainly harboured a hope that they could contribute to a change, sweep the “cinéma de papa” off the screens and replace it with something more appropriate to the times-they-are-a-changin’. All revolutions, in a way, whether political or artistic, certainly want to sweep something and replace it with a better, improved model – film is no exception and I do feel that Godard was born out of that and films like “La Chinoise”, “Weekend” or “Tout va bien”, while under no illusions, contribute to that feeling of “the world is my oyster”.

    What I find fascinating with Godard is that, for all his rhetoric, the earlier films are as political as the later but they are so in a more intuitive, almost off-the-cuff fashion – as if the theory painstakingly derived from the films themselves instead of the other way around.

    As for Adorno, I hang my head in shame and confess my ignorance. My own leather jacket is from Jackson Leathers in San Francisco.

  • Brian Dauth

    Peter: Adorno prided himself on never arguing his ideas in a traditional philosophical way. It is always a negative dialectic: circling around his meaning and examining it from every angle. And he does say some loony things. But I still find value in his work.

    When you have finished your heresy, I strongly recommend Christoph Menke’s “The Sovereignty of Art.” He writes clearly (but densely) and negotiates a rapprochement between Adorno and Derrida where each man’s work helps shore up the weaknesses and faults of the other’s. An amazing book.

  • “Godard’s point is film as inseparable of political context, whether by default or by design, and even when it is meant as pure escapism (in which case it is inseparable of its context by omission).”

    For example, Brecht on “Gunga Din”: “In the film ‘Gunga Din,’ based on a short story by Kipling, I saw British occupation forces fighting a native population. An Indian tribe – this term itself implies something wild and uncivilized, as against the word ‘people’- attacked a body of British troops stationed in India. The Indians were primitive creatures, either comic or wicked: comic when loyal to the British and wicked when
    hostile. The British soldiers were honest, good-humored chaps and when they used their fists on the mob and ‘knocked some sense’ into
    them the audience laughed. One of the Indians betrayed his compatriots to the British, sacrificed his life so that his fellow-countrymen should be defeated, and earned the audience’s heartfelt applause.

    “My heart was touched too: I felt like applauding, and laughed in all the right places. Despite the fact that I knew all the time that
    there was something wrong, that the Indians are not primitive and uncultured people but have a magnificent age-old culture, and that this Gunga Din could also be seen in a different light, e.g. as a traitor to his people. I was amused and touched because this utterly distorted account was an artistic success and considerable resources in talent and ingenuity had been applied in making it.

    “Obviously artistic appreciation of this sort is not without effects. It weakens the good instincts and strengthens the bad, it contradicts true experience and spreads misconceptions, in short it perverts our picture of the the world. There is no play and no theatrical performance which does not in some way or other affect the dispositions and conceptions of the audience. Art is never without consequences, and indeed that says something for it.”

    (Brecht errs in referring to Kipling’s poem as a short story.)

  • pat graham

    interesting we should entertain the notion that film can “change the world” (or a localized facsimile thereof, a “world in miniature” as it were) in ways not intended but not in ways that are; seems to me if you allow for the possibility of one you necessarily allow for the possibility of both * not that i’ve a list of cinematic culprits to offer up: THE GRADUATE, KOLBERG, REEFER MADNESS, RED NIGHTMARE, THE IMMORAL MR. TEAS, THE OUTLAW … what else? * except of course the list goes on and on, toward indiscrimination and infinity

    my own two cents, then, says that EVERY film changes “the world” (not least the people in it) into something that hasn’t been before–butterflies in china, tornadoes in kansas: that sort of causal paradigm … or species of paranoia if you’d rather * all of which necessarily hangs on what you mean by “change” and what makes something “consequential” as opposed to something not * arguably we aren’t in a position to say (definitively, with a furtive look toward eternity) what affects what in any given case; it might be putatively frivolous and “empty”–like dennis dugan comedies or roland emmerich disaster epics * or even incoherent, like … well, godard’s FILM SOCIALISME * so which will it be: heraclitus or parmenides, all is change or nothing ever is?

    arguably the french provide a traditional solution: plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose, a formula that gives you everything you could want, the best of all possible (or even impossible) worlds * except, of course, it’s irredeemably corrupt in the bourgie sense–as i’m sure godard would tell us and probably already has …

  • Regarding art and society the Godard-Brecht approach is among the most profound: constant redefinition and questioning, reorientation, doubting everything, changing perspectives, seeing nothing as permanent, everything as contradictory and changeable. Nagisa Oshima achieved a remarkably powerful and original parallel stance before Godard, and independently of him.

    “A film that changes society” is of course a polemical and provocative expression, but it makes sense even in big historical waves such as the Second World War and the period of liberation and reconstruction afterwards. Especially in Italy the works of Rossellini, De Sica, Fellini, and Visconti were a profound redefinition of the nation: this is who we really are, warts and all. The Italian breath of freedom inspired the whole world, even Hollywood.

    I return to NUIT ET BROUILLARD / NACHT UND NEBEL (the German version is probably one of the most important films of all times). Imagine French and German school classes watching it in the 1950s and 1960s. At home, the children ask questions: mum and dad, did you know this… where were you… what did you do… When I studied in West Berlin for three years in the 1980s I noticed the gravity of Holocaust education in German schools. “Never again”. Cinema has been important in this.

    Celebrating Georges Méliès on his 150th anniversary we are proud to know that he was a Dreyfusard, and THE DREYFUS AFFAIR shows of many film-makers were popular at the time. (If I haven’t misunderstood, Dreyfus movies were banned in France, which means that Méliès made his Dreyfus series for export only). I recently visited an exhibition of the earliest Finnish film posters from the collection of Matti Piuhola at our Museum of Moving Image. Impressive one-sheets from 1897 onwards. One of them was a DREYFUS AFFAIR poster with a detailed listing of over ten different scenes. As we know, the feature film format existed as a compilation version very early. The point: even global cinema made a contribution to the performance of justice in that shattering affair.

    In Finland, an example of a film (and a play) changing the world would be THE FARMER’S DAUGHTER (JUURAKON HULDA, 1937), the play written by Hella Wuolijoki under the pseudonym Juhani Tervapää. During Bertolt Brecht’s Finnish exile Brecht stayed with Wuolijoki, and Brecht wrote his version of MR. PUNTILA based on Wuolijoki’s original versions. THE FARMER’S DAUGHTER is about the country girl coming to the big city… and educating herself at night school and the university to become a socially active woman. The popular play and the hit movie were a tremendous inspiration for girls in the agrarian Finland of the 1930s. The Hollywood remake is lovely, but the original is better.

  • The Fanciful Norwegian

    “I don’t have my copy of the Gaumont DVD boxset handy, but I’m positive that the name of the translator is mentioned at the end of episode 4B, as is usually the case here in France, where translators (in the audiovisual field) are considered as authors. (It’s unfortunate that such credits are often rare elsewhere.)”

    I’ve noticed that Japanese DVDs usually go further and credit the translator(s) right on the packaging.

  • Gregg Rickman

    Many good comments here; films DO change the world, in obvious ways and also in more general ways. One way is how they provide a body of shared cultural references, phrases and metaphors are commonlly understood — from phrases like “I’m shocked, shocked, that there’s gambling in Casablanca” (I quote from memory) to characters, situations, scenes. On the more potent end of this continuum from this sort of cultural furniture, there ARE films that have had direct, immediate, real-life consequences. Beyond those that
    have been mentioned here already, I’d cite THE THIN BLUE LINE (which freed a man from death row).

  • x and Antti, spot-on. The Brecht quote is absolutely perfect.

  • Alex

    “Godard… became radical after May 1968 insurrection.”

    I’d say that the metamorphases of Godard’s radicalism began to accelerate into new marxian and post-Marxist forms after May-68.

    “does ANY art exist in a vacuum?”

    Probably not, but it may be worth noting that at least one of the APPLIANCE masterpieces of inveNter/designer James Dyson IS a vaccuum.

    Mike Grost,

    Mutatis mutandis, “Week End,” is by my account the 26th Godard, and, thus, perhaps the first of the Z-Godards. (If that’s too BIG budget, we can cut out the documentaries and date the Z series to “Un film comme les autres.”)

    …and didn’t the James Dean of “East of Eden” and “Rebel without a Cause” have something to do with the way 50′s male teens started wearing their hair, with that long cow-lick-like bang hanging down over the forehead?

  • James Dean’s white shirt and yellow sweater in EAST OF EDEN is a combo worn by young man movie characters who are well-mannered teens from upper middle class homes.

    Tab Hunter’s “All American Boy” wore the same outfit a few months before in BATTLE CRY (Raoul Walsh). In his yellow sweater, white shirt and crewcut at the start, he looks like the social ideal of 1955. In COLLEGE SWING (Walsh, 1938), Jackie Coogan’s nice college boy was also in a similar sweater and white shirt (you can’t tell its color because COLLEGE SWING is in black-and-white).

    Five years later, another kid-from-a-prosperous-family, George Hamilton in HOME FROM THE HILL(Minnelli), is in the same outfit.
    *
    In Vincente Minnelli:
    Bright yellow clothes for women
    “Limehouse Blues”: Ziegfeld Follies,
    shawl at Carnival: Yolanda and the Thief,
    “Who”: Till the Clouds Roll By,
    Caron’s dress and ballet slippers: An American in Paris,
    shawl: Brigadoon,
    swimsuit: Designing Woman,
    women at start: Gigi,
    Elizabeth Taylor’s suit: The Sandpiper,
    heroine’s orange-yellow suit: A Matter of Time

    For men
    Charlie, band: Brigadoon,
    rain slickers: The Cobweb,
    delivery man: Bells Are Ringing,
    Jack Nicholson: On a Clear Day You Can See Forever

  • I left a short comment last night.
    After editing to add some words, it was “rejected as spam”.
    Think some setting has gotten set wrong.
    The comment was pleasant, polite and upbeat – but no great loss.
    But the setting might be causing technical trouble.

  • Mike, it looks like my spam filter rejected your list of Vincente Minnelli’s favorite costume choices because it looked too much like an ad. I’ve restored it.

  • Barry Putterman

    And, of course, the spam filter’s mistaking Mike’s post for an ad leads us from the clothing and music in movies having impact on their respective industries into the current practice of “product placement.”